He traveled to three Olympic Games, won an Olympic gold medal and played 12 seasons on the U.S. men's national volleyball team. But after retiring from Team USA in 2012, Riley Salmon was looking for something different.
He found what he was looking for the minute he walked into Newman Arena.
Salmon is heading up University of Jamestown's first men's volleyball program, which officially begins competition in January. Even though the season is five months away, the coach said he's planning on getting his new players in the gym as soon as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics will permit.
Starting on August 26, Salmon said the team plans to run two-a-days for two weeks in order to acclimate the newly constructed group of Jimmies to his coaching style and expectations.
"Our first two weeks what we'll really do is work a lot on communication," Salmon said. "We'll work on offensive systems, defensive systems, how we want our blocks set up, how we want our defense behind the block. They'll work a lot on serve and serve-receive.
"I think the men's game now is all serve and serve-receive. Usually, the teams that win the serve and serve-receive battle win the match."
Salmon and the Jimmies plan on implementing some practice beyond Newman Arena this fall. UJ is currently scheduled to travel to Manitoba, Canada, to play two matches each against Brandon University (Sept. 20-21) and the University of Manitoba (Oct. 18-19).
Salmon explained his roster looks strong on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He said the Jimmies' three defensive specialists -- Braden Neuman, Maxwell Enriquez and Enrique Rodriguez -- will be competing for the libero position to help anchor the defense behind the block.
Neuman is a transfer from Orange Coast College, California, while Enriquez joins the Jimmies from Seaside VBC based in San Diego.
Salmon also said the front row looks strong with dependable setters at the net in the likes of Chris Ross, Austin Jacob and Chase Robinson. Ross last played for San Diego Miramar College, while Robinson comes to Jamestown from Wisconsin's Kimberly High School.
Caylor Cox (Spaceneedle VBC, Washington) will likely fill an outside hitter position and Clark Steele (Orange Coast College, California) was recruited to anchor right side. Salmon also recruited five middles led by 6-foot-4 Ever Cancel (Vallejos VBC) and Kodiak Cranford (Seaside VBC) to help add additional height in front.
Salmon and UJ men's volleyball tallied 20 commitments for its inaugural roster and season. Men's volleyball will embark on its second season as an NAIA championship sport in 2020 after previously surpassing the 40-team threshold.
"On paper, we look great," Salmon said. "We've got two of the best junior college transfers in the nation ... so that will really help us out immediately with leadership and being a little bit older. We have a lot of really good freshmen coming in that really want to play volleyball and want to be students of the game and learn what I learned under the USA National Team."
Salmon acknowledged UJ's first men's volleyball roster won't be perfect and it'll need to work on elements in front of the net, but the coach added he is planning to incorporate an offense that will maximize the strengths he sees on paper in order to favor the Jimmies in each set.
"I think our strength will be the ability to play fast," Salmon said. "We want to be faster than other teams because we aren't as big as other teams -- maybe a little undersized. But we're going to play quicker, we're going to serve more aggressively and we're going to play with a lot of ball control."
Salmon expressed his excitement to help bring men's volleyball to UJ and develop great volleyball players, adding he's even more excited to have an opportunity to coach the next generation in the game of life.
"I am excited to meet the kids and really to help them grow as young men," Salmon said. "The volleyball is great and that will come when we put in the time, but to really see them mature as young men and teach them about integrity and being accountable -- I am really looking forward to that part of it."